I didn’t catch this week’s episode of “The Office,” and now look what happened.
Apparently, Jim and Pam were planning to get married in Youngstown, which proves definitively, according to this blog, that the show’s writers have no knowledge of Rust Belt geography.
Jim + Pam = Jam
When you live in a city with lots of problems, it’s easy to get discouraged. What can one person do?
For Youngstown resident Debra Weaver the answer is trees. The self-employed attorney launched a program with two friends to turn vacant lands into controlled urban forests while helping combat global warming.
She calls her volunteer group Treez Please.
Youngstown’s Tyler Clark has a blog post today about a deconstruction forum that took place in Youngstown yesterday.
This process was first piloted on a large scale in Cleveland, with the support of the Cleveland Foundation. The best synopsis I’ve read was in this New York Times article last year.
Rather than demolishing vacant homes at a considerable cost to the municipality, a former architect named Brad Guy had the idea of taking apart homes nail by nail and scrapping the parts. The process has been attractive to many Rust Belt cities in two ways. First, it requires lots of workers in soft job markets. Second, it creates value out of what was formerly thought of as a total loss. In an added benefit, reusing building materials is green, green, green.
Cleveland even has a store that sells unique items salvaged from city homes. It’s called A Piece of Cleveland. Buffalo has Buffalo ReUse.
Urban Advocates in Youngstown have been pushing to bring the tactic there. The city has been demolishing about 500 homes annually at a cost of more than $1 million.
When I was a little girl my mom used to sing me an old cheer called “We’re Strong for Toledo.” My grandma used to sing me John Denver’s “Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio.” The songs portrayed two very different cities: one a proud metropolis, the other a laughing stock.
I thought it might be interesting to look at the most famous songs devoted to Rust Belt as a way to examine how these cities are portrayed in pop culture, and also how that image has changed over the years.
For example, the song my mother used to sing to me, judging by the slang, was written in the 1950s or sooner, Toledo’s heyday. It goes like this: Continue reading
Let me start off by saying, Youngstown is one of my favorite cities. It is a weird place, with a set of rules all its own. Some of my best friends in the world live there. Also, they make some killer Italian food in this city. Killer. It’s cheap too. Very cheap.
Anyway, photographer Mark Stahl, an acquaintance of mine from my days at The Vindicator newspaper, has generously donated the use of some of his photos. This series is about decay taking place in the city.
Let’s have a discussion. First, I wanted to announce that Rust Wire has purchased a domain. We can now be accessed simply by visiting www.rustwire.com. Also, in the coming weeks we will be undertaking some improvements to our site. The content will remain the same or, hopefully, will improve as we reach larger audiences and expand our partnerships. Thanks to Youngstown’s Tyler Clark for the assistance.
Secondly, this got me thinking.
I’ve often heard people refer to Rust Belt cities as “dying.” This has always made me bristle.
I lived in Youngstown for a year and it is as qualified as any city for doomsday histrionics. But more than 30 years after the collapse of the steel industry on which the city was founded, Youngstown is still a city. It still has a functioning government. In fact, it’s regional economic product remains in the multi-billion dollar range. People still eat at the same restaurants as their parents and grandparents did, in many cases.
What do we mean when we say a city is dying? What does a dead city look like? I’ve heard people postulate that Detroit is dying. But it remains the nation’s 22nd largest city. Is a dead city empty? Will Detroit ever be completely empty?
I know a lot of Rust Belt cities prefer to think of themselves as shrinking. This is probably a more accurate discription, in my mind.
Any thoughts on this?
Maybe you don’t consider industrial remnants and demolition scenes beautiful. But, at least for me, there’s something fascinating about the ruin.
A blighted, abandoned building can inspire all kinds of emotions in people, depending on their perspective. It’s sad and shocking to see failure on display. It’s interesting to glimpse into the past. It’s scary when a building is exposed to the elements of nature and the darker aspects of society.
I’ve come across two sideshows that offer an interesting perspective on the aftermath of industrial decline. In the first one a Detroit News photographer explores the abandoned Packard Steel Plant.
This second one was posted by Sean Posey of Rust Belt Bloggers. It is scenes from Youngstown set to Bruce Springsteen.
I’d like to get photo submissions (the beautiful/ugly and well as the pretty stuff) from other Rust Belt residents on our site.
Just putting that out there …
No joke. NPR reporter Dan Bobkoff visited Youngstown to do a story about its thriving business incubator, which now employs about 300 in downtown. Here’s what he had to say:
“Youngstown has been down so long it’s become shorthand for the Rust Belt,” he said. “When I heard that a block of Youngstown is starting to look like a tiny Silicon Valley, I drove down there to check it out.”
Software start-ups at this “managed business cluster” get free rent and utilities courtesy of the state — and the investment appears to be paying off. Eight companies call the incubator home. The stand-out is Turning Technologies, a maker of audience response devises, which was rated the fastest-growing software company in the nation by a trade magazine in 2007.
The incubator isn’t turning the economy in Youngstown around, Bobkoff reports, but it’s helping change some of the negative stereotypes that have plagued this city.
This site is intended to consolidate and develop news and information about post-industrial Great Lakes cities. It was developed by two former newspaper reporters with ties to Cleveland, Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio and Erie and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We’ve noted that there is a lot of good information about Rust Belt issues coming from blogs and the mainstream media. We hope to sort out the good stuff and summarize it for problem solvers and concerned citizens from Buffalo to St. Louis.
We also intend to develop some original stories and photography. Any writers, videographers or photographers that are willing to contribute please contact us at email@example.com. Also, if there’s any thing we’ve overlooked, or any exciting initiatives that might be worth featuring, please let us know.
Angie Schmitt & Kate Giammarise